Cellar Doors & Tasting Rooms in Central Otago
Plan your visit to Central Otago
Queenstown was carved out of the land by glaciers, rivers and lakes. Visitors are drawn year round to the spectacular landscapes and activities that the region offers. Famous for adrenaline pumping adventure sports, the region also offers more leisurely activities including hiking, cycling, golf, skiing, beautiful art galleries and fantastic wine experiences.
Situated east of Queenstown the Gibbston wine region follows the dramatic Kawarau Gorge. Gibbston is home to the first commercial bottling of Central Otago wine in 1987. Gibbston is the highest sub-region, its cooler climate and north-facing hillside vines ripen later than neighbouring sub-regions producing lighter though still intense wines.
CROMWELL & LOWBURN
Cromwell is at the southern end of a large basin, filled by Lake Dunstan and surrounded on three sides by spectacular mountains providing exquisite vistas. A number of vineyards and Cellar Doors are within walking distance to the town. A large amount of soil variability and micro-climates between vineyards in this area are a draw card for the wine enthusiast showing different styles and characteristics in the wines.
Bannockburn is situated on the southern banks of Lake Dunstan. The vineyards occupy one of the warmest, driest sites in the Central Otago wine growing region. The region has always been prosperous, initially with the region’s rich goldfields and now with flourishing vineyards. Harvest can be up to a month ahead of other sub-regions, and the wines produced are known to be highly distinctive and complex.
The Alexandra area was the first subregion to be explored and planted. Feraud’s 1864 plantings were in this area, and his stone winery still stands. The most southerly sub-region incorporates vineyards in and around Clyde, Earnscleugh and Alexandra. The climate is dry and runs to extremes in both summer and winter. Spectacular schist outcrops dominate the arid landscape and the wide air temperature diurnal variation produces vividly varietal, aromatic and finely structured wines.
PISA & QUEENSBERRY
The winegrowing area of Pisa and Queensberry stretches north from Cromwell along the western side of Lake Dunstan towards Wanaka. The majority of plantings are situated on the lower terraces and valley floor, running parallel to the snow-capped Pisa mountain range, producing silky seductive wines.
Wānaka is the most northerly and, due to its two large lakes and proximity to the Main Divide, also the most temperate of the Central Otago sub-regions. Wānaka is believed to be named from the South Island form of wananga, meaning sacred knowledge or a place of learning. Today, Wānaka remains a place where people come to for recreation, relaxation and learning. Its moderate climate produces delicate, precise and detailed wines.
Bendigo is one of the warmest sub-regions in Central Otago. The Bendigo winegrowing area is situated on a northwest facing ridge at the junction of the Cromwell and Lindis Valleys, with more gentle slopes fanning out to the valley below. Vineyards planted on stony soils, capture the extreme climate’s hot summer sun and cold clear nights producing intensely flavoured, well-structured wines.
HOW TO GET AROUND?
You can self drive at your leisure or book a guided tour with one of our many experienced local wine tour operators. The New Zealand legal drink driving limits for a driver 20 years and over is a breath alcohol of 250 micrograms (mcg) of alcohol per litre of breath and a blood alcohol limit of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. If you are under 20 the limit is zero. As an industry we encourage safe consumption and even safer travel – nominate a sober driver and taste but don’t swallow if you are driving.
While out on your travels keep an eye out for the wine trails logo on the brown road signs – these are an easy reference to the vineyards and wineries of the area. Pick up a Wine Map of the area from one of the information centers or view it online.
Queenstown – Gibbston
Gibbston – Cromwell
Cromwell – Alexandra
Cromwell – Bannockburn
Cromwell – Bendigo
Cromwell – Wānaka
Queenstown – Wānaka
You will find a selection of accommodation providers in each of the sub-regions. There are many more, in the first instance visit the local i-SITE who with their local knowledge will be able to advise you of the best place to stay and make a reservation for you. You may also like to use a search engine like Google or a booking site such as Expedia or a travel guide like Trip Advisor.
1/2 DAY (EXCLUDING LUNCH)
Explore the wineries of Gibbston and Queenstown. The Gibbston sub-region is 30 mins by car from central Queenstown. Many wineries in this region are open 7 days and offer restaurants and private wine tours and tastings.
Refer to wineries individual listings for their opening hours and wine experiences.
There are a number of Cellar Doors open the majority of the year in the Wānaka region. It is also worth the drive to explore the nearby sub-regions of Bendigo, Tarras and Queensberry.
Head up the west side of Lake Dunstan to visit the wineries at Lowburn and Pisa. A number of these Cellar Doors are open by appointment, so be sure to call ahead. Or drive a short distance up the east side of the lake towards
Bendigo and Tarras and visit Northburn with its picturesque views of the Pisa Mountain Range. Just a 10 minute drive south, is the Bannockburn sub-region which delivers spectacular views across the Cromwell basin.
On the north side of the river are the winegrowing areas of Alexandra and Clyde or head across the bridge and follow the southern bank of the Clutha River and drive through the picturesque Earnscleugh Valley. Remember to phone ahead and make a reservation with wineries who are open by appointment.
There are enough wineries in each sub-region to enjoy a full day wine tasting and a delicious lunch at one of the winery restaurants. Many Cellar Doors also offer other light snacks and platters.
If you are in the region for longer, on day one visit the wineries in the Alexandra sub-region and take another day to explore Cromwell and Bannockburn. On the third day depart Cromwell and drive up the east side of Lake Dunstan to visit Northburn, Bendigo and Tarras. Take a detour to picturesque Lake Wanaka and return via the western side of Lake Dunstan and the winegrowing areas of Queensberry, Pisa and Lowburn. On your final day, take the time to explore the wineries of Gibbston and Queenstown.